Ananya Birla, founder and CEO, CuroCarte, and third generation Birla scion, is a woman in a hurry. She has a lot of plans for herself as an entrepreneur and she outlines some of them in quiet tones waving her hands to express her ideas. Her first startup was in the microfinance space - Svantantra Microfin Pvt Ltd which provides 'affordable financial and non-financial solutions to rural women who are themselves entrepreneurs', says Birla.
The 3 year-old startup breaks even this year.
Her second startup, CuroCarte focuses on hand-made luxury products which will go live on September 11.
According to an Assocham study, India's handicrafts exports are likely to cross Rs 17,000 crore mark by the end of current fiscal year of 2015-16. The sector is expected to cross the Rs 24,000 crore mark by 2020-21.
Anil Talreja, Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells says that the luxury handmade goods market is `niche' and caters to only a select, rich clientele. "Though there are many players in the ethnic category, the luxury handmade goods category in India is niche with hardly any players." He says that September is the start of the festive season and the demand for gifting will be on the rise from now.
Luxury handmade products is a niche market and there are some well-entrenched players in the market in the space who are solo brands and others who sell it through malls. Birla says that she is convinced her idea has gravitas and will be impactful.
“I am targeting the mid-range. There is a market for it,” says the 22-year-old, adding that she did test marketing and found there was a demand for the category. Her research has shown that by year 2020 India will have the largest working youth population in the world with a lot of disposable income at their hands. The handmade goods market is unorganised and Birla says her endeavour is to change that.
CuroCarte has a team of 50 people, many of them designers. They will lend contemporary designs to handmade products thus widening their appeal and also accessibility through the e-commerce space. Some of these products will not be contemporized like thangka paintings for instance. Eventually, says Birla, the startup it will be a 100 percent design-oriented product firm.
The inventory-based model is located only in India but will soon have an office in Europe. CuroCarte will source products from Vietnam, Cambodia, France, Thailand, UK, Spain, Portugal and Japan, besides India.
E-commerce ventures are heavy on the discount model to lure in customers. Birla is clear that CuroCarte won’t be offering any discounts. “We will be working as a global platform,” she says. The product range starts from Rs 3,000 for five marble-inlaid coasters to Rs 5-10 lakhs for exclusive products. There is also a B2B model for those who want to make bulk purchases.